About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Six Things

One of the things that happen when you start a new blog, if you don't have a hit counter you wonder just who, if anyone, is reading you. You visit other blogs, pluck up your courage and leave comments, but comments aren't always returned. In an effort to see what other people are doing and saying, you press the next blog button on Blogger dashboard. Wow, it's all there, life in every conceivable permutation and then some. Mostly, the content you find is not up your alley, but sometimes you strike gold, like the time I found St Kilda Today , a photographic journal of my very own suburb, run by the estimable Michael Blamey.

Sometimes people find you, like Angela of Seriously Brilliant Stuff . We had started our blogs pretty much together, and shortly after, she hit the next blog button and 'food for thought' popped up on her browser. Liking what she had read, Angela left a comment, which prompted me to check her out (in a nice way) and liking what I read, left a comment as well. From there we became blogging buddies, supporting each other in the early months. Like its been a whole six months since I started! Things sure move quickly on the net.

Anyway, Angela is always finding interesting things and lately she found a meme that requires revealing six weird things about yourself, or rather six things you didn't need to know about me.
I'm not as brave as her, so I will tweak it a little and give it a food focus. So here goes.

  1. Angela revealed she is always up for it. Well so am I. There is never a time when I don't feel like cooking. Maybe I run out of time to do it, so some takeaway comes our way, but not very often. I've got a knife bag and will cart my knives over to friends' houses on the slightest pretext to indulge my passion. When I'm not slicing or sauteing, I will be reading cookbooks, magazines, surfing food blogs or watching food programs. Yeah, I've got it bad.
  2. Okay, so when I don't have time to cook, there is a favourite takeaway - fried chicken. Not just any fried chicken, it has to be the Colonels. Nothing can make me happier than sitting down with his fried chicken and a big tub of potato and gravy. I don't care much for their chips or coleslaw, just let me dunk a tender chicken piece into that gravy and I'm as happy as a pig in...well you know what. Of course being the guy I am, I'm working on the recipe. So far the closest texture wise is a mix of breadcrumbs and flour. As to the eleven secret herbs and spices, spice wise I'm pretty sure of three - salt, pepper and monosodium glutamate, and I suspect tumeric. The herbs must be ground up to a powder because nothing is identifiable, but I'm guessing would include oregano, marjoram and thyme. Of course the one thing the Colonel doesn't use that I do, is a good free range chicken.
  3. When I was reading Jeanne's Cook Sister one time, she revealed that she never makes mayonnaise, ever. Well I'm revealing that I've never bought mayo, ever. I know that everybody else uses store bought, for you can always taste a certain sweetness with it. But ever since I learned how to make it, there has been no other way. I'm a bit of a gun at it, always pushing to get the oil to emulsify at a rate that invites the dreaded split, mostly it comes together, occassionaly in goes another yolk and start again. A couple of things I've found is that a good spoonful of quality Dijon mustard makes the emulsion more stable and less likely to split and Spanish sherry vinegar gives the nicest tang, unless you are making aioli, where lemon juice is the best choice.
  4. I love my knives. German engineered Dick. They are like my own children to me. Not a day goes past when one or another is held in my hands. Purchased some thirty years ago, they are all as sharp as the day I bought them, though one is not quite as long, a consequence of being pressed into oyster opening service and the tip busting off, then it was off to the knife hospital and a new tip was ground on as well as a new oyster knife being purchased. Wooden handled, they require a bit of linseed oil every six months to keep the wood in good shape. Don't believe everything you hear about knife sharpening machines, I've had one for twenty years and there is no discernible effect on my knives, other than being razor sharp. Not that I use the machine very often, only when my steel fails to bring them up to standard. This probably sounds stupid, but I feel like a butcher when I slap my knives across the steel in that rhythmic motion a good butcher uses. The only time I've been scared of my knives is when I taught my kids how to use them, after you demonstrate hand on hand what to do, then you have to step back and let them go at it. I read one chef saying he lets his kids use slightly blunt knives, I couldn't disagree more. When the knife is not so sharp you have to exert more pressure to get it to cut, this extra force makes the knife more likely to slip and to do some damage than a properly sharpened knife that cuts with ease. Just teach your kids how to keep their fingers out of the way.
  5. I cannot bring myself to buy supermarket eggs produced by caged birds. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I believe free range birds have a higher happiness quotient. Whatever, it's cruel to keep any animal caged up and unable to move around. I've blogged about this before, as have several other bloggers. Our kitchen only has happy eggs from happy chickens. We only eat happy chickens - maybe the chickens aren't happy to know that.
  6. I can't stand to watch somebody else barbecuing, especially when said person doesn't know much about cooking. It should be a crime to stab or pierce a sausage, hey, what did the poor sausage do to deserve that. Or how about people who turn the meat over and over and over et al, just relax will you, turn the meat once only. Some don't understand how heat works, just because the chicken pieces are nicely blackened doesn't mean they are properly cooked through. Long and slow when on the bone. Or the other side of the coin, there are some who believe that all meat should be cooked to death, just to be sure. I want to slap their heads onto the grill just so they know how it feels. Did you know pork is safe to eat at 59 c (138 f), which equates to medium rare? Okay, I understand we are too conditioned against eating pink pork, but leave it juicy please.

So there you have it, part of my dark side. As always, anyone who wants to have a go, off you go.


 
  posted at 8:42 am
  12 comments



12 Comments:
At 3:11 pm, Anonymous kitchen hand said...

I hate being at a barbecue where they won't let you have any meat until it's burned black.

 
At 7:23 pm, Blogger Ange said...

Good work, & just for the record for some strange reason I'm never up for it on Fridays!

 
At 2:26 am, Blogger Angela said...

Hahaha!
I never knew you were so weird. ;)

I am glad to know that you enjoy a good bucket of KFC, as well. Just last week Rob and I were discussing how it is just plain hard to make home-made fried chicken as good as the Colonel's.

And homemade mayonaise?! I am truly impressed!

I get your knife thing.....my father-in-law LOVES his knives. He has bought us several beautiful knives for our kitchen. And just about every holiday we look forward to another one.

Thanks for participating!

 
At 7:51 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi kitchenhand, yes it makes me want to throttle somebody, but we just have to be polite. Grrr

Hi Ange, Fridays huh, does that mean fish'n'chips?

Hi Angela, a pleasure as always. It's funny with the mayo thing, I never think of it as special, from start to finish it only takes two minutes. As to the Colonel, I know I will never match his chicken, so just stick to Southern fried, with egg and flour....and gravy of course!

 
At 8:15 am, Blogger Reb said...

I get the knife thing too. I have Japanese Globals plus Kyocera ceramic knives (those things are so effing sharp they're scarry, but they're delicate so only good for girly cutting and chopping). And I actually have no idea why there's a mayonnaise industry. The question is, would you put your mayo with KFC?

 
At 10:19 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi Reb, if only they could make a ceramic knife more ductile but still able to keep its edge. Mayo with KFC? Not for me, that's too much oil with oil, just bring on the gravy.

 
At 1:23 pm, Blogger Kitchen Queen said...

Your list has inspired me to try making my own mayo again. And I agree completely on the knives; my son has been helping me chop herbs since he was three and has only cut himself once or twice (he's eight now). He's a good assistant.

 
At 7:20 pm, Blogger Jeanne said...

That was a great read!! I still hang my head in shame re. my lack of mayonnaise-making... But I'm 100% behind you on the BBQ!! There really do seem to be only 2 settings: a) tough as old shoes but by God, we'll make sure it's cooked; and b) black on the outside, bloody on the inside. Part of it also comes from trying to BBQ on flames instead of coals - always doomed to failure! Give me my talented hubby's perfectly done BBQ every time!

And yes - the only fast food I still eat is... KFC!! Woo hoo!! And none of this boneless crap - I want the recognisable pieces of chicken coated in crispy cholesterol! Bring on the bucket ;-)

 
At 8:09 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi Kitchen Queen, just remember it's the first two tablespoons of oil that has to go in drop by drop, after that you can speed up. Glad to see your son taking an interest.

Hi Jeanne, there is no shame to be found in the bottom of a mayonnaise jar, only at the bottom of a bottle of vodka. I'm so pleased that I'm not the only one who likes KFC.

 
At 9:21 am, Blogger Pille said...

Funny indeed:) I made my first mayo just a fortnight ago, and it was really easy indeed. However - as I usually cook for one and I occasionally just need a teaspoon of mayo on my sarnie, it's easier to have a bottle in the fridge.
I have a total knife envy though. I'm doing all my cooking with a small paring/vegetable knife. When I grow up, I'll buy myself a proper foodie knife;) Who knows, maybe even a German engineered Dick.

 
At 1:10 pm, Blogger habanero suz said...

They have KFC in Australia? I guess I should have known. As for BBQ...nothing worse than overcooked meat. I always want to throttle the person who's letting it linger on the grill too long.

My feeling is it's better to undercook it than over cook it. You can always throw it back on the grill, or re-heat it to perfection the next day, but you can *never* rescue an overcooked chop.

 
At 8:27 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi Pille, Know what you mean, it's not possible to make small amounts of mayo, better the jar than none at all. I can't believe you make everything that you do with a paring/vegetable knife, I'm in awe.

Hi Habanero suz, looks like we are a far flung outpost of the American empire. KFC rules ;-P

 

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